I have been impressed with the parental responses to budget cuts in every metro county. Here is a good school finance primer sent to me by the Fayette Citizens for Children. The county boasts some of the best schools in Georgia and a dedicated parent base that wants to keep it that way.
While this Q&A is local to Fayette in some instances, it has information relevant to all systems and parents that I felt was worth sharing:
What is QBE?
In a nutshell the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) is an act that states that the formula by which the State of Georgia requires the provision of Basic Quality Education has NEVER been fully funded, though it’s supposed to be. This is a complex formula that requires school systems to provide basic education, such as reading, writing, math and science, etc. For the provision of these subjects, and based upon the number of students a system has, and weighting those students dependent upon certain criteria such as special education assistance, a dollar amount is supposed to be provided by the State. Any additional bells and whistles that a system wants to provide, like art, music, band etc….is up to each individual system to provide funding for. Since the QBE formula has never been fully funded, (lacking $42 million for the last 8 years) some legislators are trying to enact the following Article to that Code:
Is the State of Georgia required to fully fund education? Our emphasis added.
From QBE legislation below:
To amend Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the “Quality Basic Education Act,” so as to require that the Quality Basic Education Formula is fully funded by the General Assembly; to revise provisions for purposes of conformity; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
You can see the QBE bill here
You can see a research summary of QBE and funding our schools here:
How much has Georgia not funded Fayette County’s QBE allocation?
During the past 8 years, Fayette County has not received $42 million dollars it earned under QBE.
How much is Georgia expected to take from Fayette County this coming year?
Rumors are that the state funding cut may exceed $15M which is over 33% of the past 8 years combined. Fortunately, our school board is projecting a $12MM surplus due to cost cuts, teacher sacrifices, and purchases from the general fund transferred to the e-SPLOST
I received a letter that said Georgia spending on K-12 education has gone from $5.2 Billion in 2001 to $7 Billion in 2010 is that true?
Because this information came from a state legislator, we are willing to stipulate to his figures, however this is only part of the story. Due to inflation, to pay the same amount of money in FY2010 dollars that we spent in FY2001, this amount would need to be $6.4 Billion based on an average of Internet inflation calculators. Therefore, of the $1.8 Billion dollar increase the legislator cites, two thirds or $1.2 Billion is due to inflation.
Is it true the State of Georgia pay scale for teachers has increased 32% from 2001 to 2010?
That is being researched. But it is very important to know that due to unfunded mandates from the state, a great portion of this amount is dictated by the state but paid by your property tax dollars.
Can Fayette County raise property taxes to offset some of the state cuts?
No. Georgia law caps school property taxes at 20 Mils. We are already there due to the underfunded QBE. If Georgia had paid the amounts required by law, we might have lower property taxes and would have a surplus fund.
Is it true Fayette County may have a property tax decrease in FY2011?
Yes. Due to our recently passed e-SPLOST, FCBOE is paying off some bonds early that will result in a ¾ mill or more decrease.
Can we use the e-SPLOST funds to cover the state funding cuts?
No. e-SPLOST is segregated for long-term hard assets such as schools, computers and buses. However, purchases paid for by the e-SPLOST in FY2010 resulted in almost $4 million dollars remaining in the general fund that would have otherwise been used to pay for these hard assets.
Where can I find a full analysis of the FY 2011 state budget for schools?
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank, has published a report.
Are there ways Georgia can raise the money?
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute has published the an analysis on whether schools have to be cut.